Barbenheimer continues to dominate summer moviegoing, with the dynamic duo earning $81.7M additional this weekend. For now, their quest to stand together at the top of the box office for the third week in a row has been denied, with MEG 2: THE TRENCH edging out OPPENHEIMER for second place. The positive surge in the industry was highlighted this week when major exhibitors including AMC, Regal, and Cinemark issued press releases announcing record revenues.
From a studio perspective, the success of BARBIE and OPPENHEIMER is holding down ticket sales for other films, including last week’s release of HAUNTED MANSION and this week’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM and MEG 2: THE TRENCH. The only new wide-release film on next weekend’s schedule is Universal’s THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER, which is not likely to represent much of a challenge to Barbenheimer’s continued reign when we expect OPPENHEIMER will take back second place. But back to this weekend…
BARBIE finished #1 yet again with an impressive $53.0M, a decline of only 43% from last weekend. The pink-clad crowds have made BARBIE the second-highest-grossing movie of the year with a total domestic gross of $459.4M after only 24 days. The only film with a higher total this year is Universal’s THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE, which has earned $574.2M domestic, lifting the second quarter to post-pandemic heights.
Amazingly, BARBIE is already the number 24 domestic release of all time, falling just behind the seminal STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE that began the STAR WARS franchise with a total box office of $461.0M. At the current rate, BARBIE will eventually pass THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE is the top-earning movie of 2023.
Comparing Domestic Grosses for BARBIE and THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE After Three Weeks
However, it remains to be seen if there is still enough moviegoing left in the summer to support BARBIE’s march to the top. Because it opened on 4/5, THE SUPER MARIO BROS. MOVIE was just entering the summer season after its first three weeks in theatres. BARBIE still needs to make $115M to pass SUPER MARIO. Perhaps the more amazing number is BARBIE’s worldwide gross, which has soared past $1B. It has become the 53rd movie of all time to reach that mark and the 6th in the post-pandemic period.
Even with BARBIE’s iconic American image, Mattel has clearly excelled in packaging her for a global market, with 53% of the movie’s total box office coming from theatres outside the U.S. and Canada. It may stay as the number one movie until Labor Day Weekend when THE EQUALIZER 3 arrives at the Cineplex.
Sony’s MEG 2: THE TRENCH finished in a surprising second place with $30M in its opening weekend. The original THE MEG opened on 8/4/2018 and overperformed in its debut with $45.5M in its opening weekend. It starred Jason Statham as the ringleader of a group of scientists on an underwater descent to the Marianas Trench, where they encounter the Megalodon, the largest ocean predator of all time.
The movie earned $145.5M in the U.S. and Canada and an amazing $385.0M internationally, 72.5% of its $530.5M worldwide total. Even after a hefty production budget of $130M, THE MEG is four times that amount at the box office, making it wildly profitable for its studio backers. A Hollywood rule-of-thumb is that any movie whose box office reaches 2.5 times its production budget is profitable.
Therefore, it was a financial no-brainer to come back with a sequel to this summer shark thriller. Sony invested a similar amount in the new film, bringing back Jason Stratham in the lead role as well as the original writers and producers. The new tale has Stratham’s Jonas Taylor leading another research dive into the ocean depths, where they come across a malevolent mining operation that presents challenges to their own survival.
Despite having a second-place finish, MEG 2: THE TRENCH was only able to land 2/3 the gross of the original THE MEG. Despite its financial success, audiences were not thrilled with THE MEG, rating it very low at 47% on Rotten Tomatoes.
As a result, there may not have been much demand for a reboot, especially one that tells a similar story. Also, the critics are particularly sour on MEG 2, giving it a lowly 29%, while general viewers who have seen it are “so-so” on the result, with a 70% audience score. Sony will need a lot of help from international markets if they are to make a profit from this effort.
OPPENHEIMER continues to play a strong supporting role in the summer box office story, finishing with $28.7M and a close third-place finish after a very modest decline of 39% from last weekend. For Universal, their first outing with acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan has exceeded all expectations, with its run in IMAX theatres breaking all records for that format. Now that GRAN TURISMO has pushed its opening back by two weeks, most IMAX locations will continue showing OPPENHEIMER, which will pad its already strong results.
After 17 days, the movie earned $228.6M domestically and $423M worldwide. As with BARBIE, OPPENHEIMER is performing very well globally with 54% of its worldwide gross coming from international markets. In fact, it has an outside shot at surpassing THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST to become the all-time highest-grossing R-Rated film in the domestic market.
Comparing Domestic Grosses for OPPENHEIMER and THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST after the First Three Weekends
Holding well week after week, we predict that OPPENHEIMER will rise up to take second place next weekend after MEG 2 suffers a hard second-week fall.
Fourth place went to Paramount’s TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM, snatching $28.0M in its opening weekend and a five-day total of $43.1M. The Ninja Turtles began in 1984 as comic book characters, and since that time have spawned seven feature films, five television series, and numerous video games, toys, and miscellaneous merchandise.
The theatrical releases have grossed $1.1B worldwide, with the most recent TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: OUT OF THE SHADOWS opening with $35.3M in its debut weekend beginning on 6/3/2016. That film earned $135.3M in the U.S. and Canada and $245.6M worldwide on a production budget of $135M.
Nickelodeon greenlit TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: MUTANT MAYHEM in 2020, and brought in Seth Rogen, a self-avowed fan of the franchise, to mastermind the project. In addition to starring, Rogen also had a hand in writing and producing the movie.
He wanted to focus the story on the teenage identity of the hero turtles, a perspective that he felt was not emphasized in earlier versions. In this outing, the turtle brothers set out to win the hearts of New Yorkers, after years of insulating themselves from the human world. In addition to Rogen, the cast of MUTANT MAYHEM also includes Ice Cube, Paul Rudd, Maya Rudolph, and Jackie Chan.
Unlike past movies in the series, the critics are very pleased with the creativity of the sequel, earning a 95% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers are equally enthusiastic, offering their own 95% audience score. Paramount paired back production costs to $70M, nearly one-half that of the 2018 original. This feat may get the attention of other studios, who are operating under increasing pressure to hold down costs without jeopardizing quality and audience appeal.
Insult was added to injury this weekend when Disney’s HAUNTED MANSION fell into fifth place with only $8.9M, a massive 63% decline from last weekend’s $24.2M, which was already a disappointment. This guarantees flop status for the project, especially after considering that $150M was spent to make the film. A laundry list of reasons for this lack of success include:
- By opening only one week after Barbenheimer, HAUNTED MANSION never had a chance to get attention from the media and moviegoers.
- The actor’s strike led to a ban on the stars of the movie being able to promote their new project.
- A lowly 41% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes made potential ticket buyers think twice.
Different release dates may have given the movie a chance, perhaps in the weeks leading up to Halloween when it could have been positioned as a family-friendly horror movie. In fact, Disney might need to reconsider its strategy to create feature films out of its popular theme park rides since only PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN has found success with this formula, while others such as JUNGLE CRUISE and now HAUNTED MANSION have come up short.
All movies in theatres this weekend earned $176.4M domestic, compared with $92.0M last year when BULLET TRAIN opened to $30.0M.
WHERE ARE WE AS OF 8/3
The year-to-date comparison of 2023 to 2022 after 30 weeks now stands at 121%. 2023 is still only 85% compared to results at this point in 2019.